Art and Design KS3: Anne Seymour Damer and sculpture

We examine how women of the 18th century faced many obstacles to becoming artists.

The area of art that women found most difficult to get into was sculpting.

Historian Amanda Vickery tells us women were thought to lack the strength and intelligence to do it.

Shots of portraits of Anne Seymour Damer (1749 - 1828) are mixed with sketches of the male form and statues and we learn that she became the first recognised female sculptor in Britain.

Women were not allowed to study the male form in detail as it was thought not proper and immoral.

Amanda explains that Anne Seymour Damer had wealthy parents who hired a surgeon to help her understand the male form so she could study sculpting.

Damer decided to make sculptures in a neo-classical style similar to Roman and Greek.

We see a marble bust of actress Elizabeth Allen made by Anna Seymour Damer.

Damer wrote on the side in Greek and signed it to show other people she was a well-educated woman.

Newspaper columnists and commentators made fun of her for being too butch or manly because she was doing sculpting, which people thought was men's work.

Images of a bust of Admiral Nelson and a statue of King George III demonstrate that important people liked her work and hired her to sculpt for them.

Amanda praises Anne Seymour Damer for overcoming and ignoring prejudice and becoming a successful sculptor at a time when it was thought women could and should not do that.

She points out that this was only possible because she had a lot of support and encouragement from her parents and money to hire teachers.

Other women would have found it impossible to be successful as sculptors without these advantages.

Contains adult themes. Teacher review recommended prior to use in class.

This clip is from the series The Britain That Women Made.

Teacher Notes

This could be used in lessons on relevant key historical concepts such as change and continuity and causation, or relevant historical periods like the Industrial Revolution and the social, political and economic change of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Students could be asked to discuss the barriers to women becoming sculptors.

What were the factors which helped Seymour become successful?

In their answers they could consider the importance of her determination, her education and the popular tastes in art at the time.

Which of these factors was most important in her success?

Curriculum Notes

This clip is suitable for teaching Art and Design and History at Key Stage 3 and Third Level.